The haunting beauty of Golgothica in Second Life

Golgothica, February 2021
Golgothica’s story has yet to be written … The detailed, rich mysterious, Gothic landscape will hopefully inspire those who come here to discover with others what it’s story is and why things are as they are. It is an open book, the first chapter is a simple description of the place and the locations. But who lives here, what they do, and why, is in the creative minds of those who come to dwell here?

So reads, in part the introduction to Golgothica, the latest region-wide setting that has sprung forth from the eye and imagination of Hera (Zee9). Sharing the same Full region as the latest iteration of her famous Drune cyberpunk environment (which sits high in the sky overhead), Golgothica is – and I say this without any hyperbole – a simply magnificent build.

Golgothica, February 2021

Located on the ground level of the region and reached via the main landing point that also offers a way to the current iteration of Drune, the setting is presented as a medieval style coastal town or village, with a small wharf, numerous houses and places of commerce, a church that at first glance appears to perhaps be under repair, and with outlying farmlands, woods and roads that cross the countryside while the high walls and towers of what might at first be taken as a mighty castle rise to the west, dominating the skyline.

Golgothica, February 2021

It all looks typically Middle Ages on being seen for the first time – it is only as visitors explore, that the darker side of the place, caught in the growing shadows of twilight, starts to reveal itself. The local inn, for example, carries the name The Slaughtered Lamb and has hanging over its door the image of a severed wolf’s head on a pike; thus neither name nor sign are particularly welcoming – although inside, all is undoubtedly cosy.

And what is one to make of the Romany camp  at the edge of town, the caravans carefully arranged around a stone pentagram lain within the ground, or the riverside statue seeming to celebrate the blood lust of werewolves? What sinister rites might be performed out at the henge where fires burn – one within the rune-inscribed round stone at the centre of the henge, and the other at the feet of the great wicker man watching over the ancient stones, apparently awaiting someone to occupy its woven form…

A walk in the opposite direction to the henge raises further questions: what has happened to the local church?  A visit to it will reveal that rather than being in a state of repair, it has in fact been left to ruin, with nature slowly claiming it as a place of her own, all former signs of devotion long removed saved a single statue – and even that is far from saintly.

Across the waters of the local stream, the woodlands add to the mystery, strange lights illuminating the tree trunks, casting haunting light across glades that offer the unexpected, from statutes to shrines that hint towards unnatural acts.

Golgothica, February 2021

Then, beyond this all sits the castle that is in fact a monastery – at least according to the map that can be obtained at the main landing point, or which is automatically delivered as visitors land aboard the vessel moored at the village quayside, and which marks the start of all journeys through the setting. With its foreboding walls and towers and great gates, it has all the look of a fortification designed to keep people out, rather than welcoming them in for worship, whilst the shape of the many watchtowers that line its walls imply something of a far eastern influence.

Caught against the setting Sun in the default environment for the setting, this great complex is no home to the chanting of your usual monks, Gregorian or Buddhist, however; although it is clearly the seat of some form of learning, given the Maester’s library on the upper level of the southern keep-like structure.

Golgothica, February 2021

Instead, this appears to be a place where deities of a more forbidden kind are paid homage, as can be witnessed by the Bosch-like murals in the sleeping cells of those who reside here and through the design of the main chapel. And what of the dungeons lying below that chapel, what do they say of those who might occupy them – and the fate that might awaited them?

Two interlinked elements are always apparently within Hera’s builds that makes them ideal for visitors and role-players alike. The first is narrative: all of Hera’s builds from the 2019-XS pre-Drune, through Drune (covered numerous times in these pages) to the likes of Venesha and on to Golgothica carry within them threads of narrative and imagine just waiting for those coming into the region to pick them up and follow them or weave them together.

Gologothica, February 2021

The second is attention to detail that both helps to strengthen these threads and gives the more casual visitor touches to be appreciated. Take, for example the beehives behind the mead house; a small detail they might be – but an important one. After all, what is mead without honey, other than water with some added fruit for taste? Add to this the fact that the major structures within Hera’s builds are of her own design, thus making each setting genuinely unique in form and character.

I have yet to be disappointed in any of Hera’s designs; they never fail to to engage, surprise and enamour. However, with Golgothica I cannot help but feel she has created something very special, perhaps her most engaging, immersive design to date. I’ve no idea how long Hera intends to keep Golgothica open – I suppose that very much depends on her creative spark – but it is quite genuinely not a setting to be missed. or avoided.

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